Showrunner Emily Andras has a history of working on genre shows with really strong female protagonists (see Lost Girl, Killjoys) and IDW, Wynonna Earp‘s comic book publishing company, wanted a female show runner to take reins on this property. Naturally Andras felt like a perfect fit. When first approached with the property, Andras fell in love with Wynonna’s personality, which she describes “as witty and funny, but a real mess.” She also loved the setting, being from Alberta, Canada (affectionately referred to as “CanaMontana”) she felt that the modern-day western was due for a revival and loved the idea of a supernatural western.
Of course, while converting a comic book into a TV show is a very popular course of action these days, it always seems to come with a few adjustments. The biggest change for Wynonna Earp was perhaps the time frame in which the story takes place. In the comics, she’s written at 35-40 and in the prime of her black badge career, but the show introduces a younger Wynonna still trying to come to terms with her own identity. As creator Beau Smith put it, “Emily has opened this wonderful world basically to the origin of Wynonna Earp when she was younger. How she went from a mess to the best.”
Andras describes her vision of Wynonna Earp as Robert Rodriguez meets Buffy meets Frozen. The western look of the show was very important from the show’s inception. Andras refers to the show as a “chrome western” claiming, “She’s [Wynonna] not going to ride a horse in this. She’s going to ride a motorbike. She hates horses and they hate her.” The look itself was largely taken from the comic book tradition, subverting the traditional washed out yellows and greys of a western for a more vibrant tone that would really make the exploding demon heads and splashes of blood really punch.
Premiering on SyFy, Friday, April 1st, Wynonna Earp blends a bit of history and contemporary western culture with a world in which supernatural demons are trying to take over. Enter our heroine, the eponymous Wynonna Earp (played by Melanie Scrofano), a young and wayward woman struggling to learn about and accept her fate as the Earp heir. This fate (or destiny) requires her to defend her hometown by killing these mysterious creatures, a destiny somehow connected to her great-great grandfather, the renowned marshal Wyatt Earp.
The start of the series finds Wynonna reluctantly returning to her hometown of Purgatory on her 27th birthday, a date that seems to set in motion a series of events that propels a supernatural evil into action. Drawn into the foray are Wynonna’s younger sister, Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley), a spunky barmaid who seems to know more than she should about Wyatt Earp and the men he had killed, and Agent Xavier Dolls (Shamier Anderson), a special agent in the US Marshals who wants to recruit Wynonna for the black badge division.
Other important characters to note include: The Revenants, demons who look human (and once were) who seem to be resurrected from the dead and spurred into action every time a new heir comes of age. And the wild card, John Henry “Doc” Holliday (Tim Rozen) who camps with the Revenants, but is not one himself. Of course, many will recognize that name as that of Wyatt Earp’s good friend, a proper gunslinger and known gambler who supposedly died from tuberculosis. It is undecided, or rather unknown, whose side Doc is on.
As we begin to learn more about Wynonna and her destiny, there are more than a few mysteries set forth. What is Agent Dolls’ big secret? What really happened with Wynonna and Waverly’s other sister, Willa? What is the Revenants’ plan? And, most infuriating, who or what exactly is Doc Holiday and whose side is he on?!
We asked Smith if he felt there was anything missing in the adaptation, to which he very emphatically responded, “there is not one single thing.” He explains how conservative comic creators like himself are often found collaborating with more liberal-minded (or as he put it near socialist) people and the key is to always be open-minded and learn from one another. His more colorful description of the transformation of Wynonna Earp from page to screen was, “I’ve made a cake, but they’ve put the best icing on it you could ever eat.”
It seems that Wynonna Earp may have a little bit of something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in touching relationship stories, badass female demon killers, supernatural mysteries, covert men in black-ish organizations, or gory creature hunting, you might just want to tune in.